Kazakhstan will take "unprecedented" security measures for this weekend's visit by Pope John Paul II, in the wake of the attacks on the United States and tension throughout Central Asia, the foreign minister said Monday.
"The security measures will be unprecedented in connection with the recent terrorist attacks in the United States," Kazak Foreign Minister Bulat Iskakov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.
He said 2,400 Interior Ministry police and troops would guard the Kazak capital, Astana -- a new capital with just 350,000 residents -- for the visit.
The Vatican said plans were still going ahead for the pope's weeklong trip starting Saturday to Kazakhstan and Armenia, despite security concerns after last week's terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
Congo suspends pay
to 'ghost' civil servants
KINSHASA, Congo (AP) -- Congo has suspended pay to more than 21,000 "ghost" civil servants put on the country's payrolls by corrupt government employees, authorities said Monday.
Hordes of civil servants and some former ministers profited from the scheme, Civil Service Minister Benjamin Mukulungu said. Mukulungu told the Associated Press 21,652 phantom employees had been discovered after an investigation, saving the government about $619,000 in salaries it was about to pay out.
Government employees in most parts of Congo make from $2 to $20 per month, with many supplementing their incomes with bribes.
Some civil servants in Kinshasa say they haven't been paid in the last eight months.
Mukulungu said the government would use the saved money toward paying civil servants in the rebel-held east who have not been paid in three years.
Court backs Australia
in decision to deny asylum
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- The Australian government acted legally when it refused entry to 433 asylum seekers saved from a sinking Indonesian ferry by a Norwegian cargo ship, a court ruled Monday.
The panel of Federal Court justices overturned by 2-1 an earlier ruling by a single judge. Monday's ruling cleared the way for the refugees to disembark from an Australian warship that took them to the Pacific island nation of Nauru after they were barred from Australia.
A Norwegian freighter, the Tampa, rescued the refugees from the Indonesian vessel on Aug. 26 and tried to take them to Australia's Christmas Island. Australia refused to accept them, saying it was already flooded with refugees.
Colombia rebel accuses
U.S. of interference
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- Colombia's top rebel chieftain accused the United States on Monday of meddling with his country's internal affairs by sending "hundreds of military advisers and mercenaries."
Manuel Marulanda, head of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, also warned that peace talks with the government will collapse if President Andres Pastrana forces the FARC to give up a Switzerland-sized safe haven he ceded to the rebels in southern Colombia.
The United States is pumping $1.3 billion in mostly military counter-narcotics aid to Colombia. Green Berets have been training Colombian anti-drug troops and U.S. contractors piloting planes that fumigate drug crops.